My Social Rules

I’ve been walking into places and saying things for, well, most of my life. And by now I reckon I’m pretty good at it. I’d be pretty irritated if someone now said: Rob, we’ve noticed the proliferation of social situations around the world and realised it has some implications for our business. We think you need some help in this matter. So to assist you as you navigate this confusing maze of social norms we’ve come up with some guidelines to help you interact with other people.

Given that I am now big enough to know when I want to deliberately insult someone and that I understand that anything a drunk bloke in a pub tells me should be verified by other sources, I would find such an approach rather patronising. So thankfully I haven’t yet been sent the equivalent for social media.

But that hasn’t stopped me enjoying other media organisation’s guidelines, particularly AFP’s, which contains some entertaining errors from stories based on social media: (incidentally I have no idea if this is genuine or not)

We have been caught out in the past, for example by a fake Twitter account in which the British foreign secretary supposedly sent a message of condolence after the death of Michael Jackson ending with the words: “RIP, Michael.”

Of course they aren’t the only ones…

In September 2009, for example, DPA ran a story that a German rap group, the Berlin Boys, had mounted a suicide attack on a small town called Bluewater in the United States. The story was backed up by the group’s Internet site, the KVPK television news site and a page in Wikipedia. It was later discovered that neither the town, nor the group, nor the television company existed. DPA called a press conference to apologise.

Masterful. (And it reminds me of a front-page story we had in The Chester Chronicle about a new boy band who had arrived at the top hotel in town. We had a snapper there for the limousine’s arrival and the whole thing made for a nice pic on the front. The next week we had to run a story saying that it was a hoax carried out by an enterprising bunch of sixth-formers.)

So For anyone interested, my own rules are:

  • Don’t tweet when drunk
  • Don’t take anything at face value
  • Remember that you can’t delete anything

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